Show: “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Release Date: Sept. 14, 2022
Genre: Drama, science fiction
The premiere of the long-awaited fifth installment of “The Handmaid’s Tale” has finally aired. Unfortunately, so far, it does not hold a candle to the intricate, jaw-dropping and captivating precedent set by the former seasons. Plagued by lazy plotlines and slow pacing, the show has become an exhausting watch so far.
“The Handmaid's Tale,” a social commentary on the dangers of patriarchal totalitarianism, introduced unique viewpoints this season. Since a majority of the main characters are now united in the safe haven of Canada, the horrors of Gilead, the theocracy residing over former America, appear more as harrowing memories rather than stark reality. Still, characters such as June Osborne, the main protagonist, are forced to brave their trauma as they work to dismantle Gilead’s tyrannical forces from afar.
In theory, this change in perspective should open the door for intriguing developments. However, it is obvious that June’s story has run its course, and the plot of “The Handmaid’s Tale” is stretched thin.
The show has lost any sense of identity. What was initially pardoned as slow-burn pacing in the premiere episodes has now manifested into dull, semi-interwoven storylines with misguided connections to a greater plot. The newest season's failure is due, in part, to the lack of adherence to the main character's previously established persona and archetype.
In former seasons, June's complex character arc was the most hauntingly-captivating aspect of the show. Confined within the treacherous walls of Gilead, she was forced to balance herself between her role of an obedient Handmaid and releasing her rebellious, courageous nature.
But the new season disregards the witty powerhouse June has worked to become.
June underwent an exceeding amount of trauma during her time in Gilead. This period undeniably carried emotional baggage and lasting scars that made it difficult for her to adjust to the new reality in Canada. Understandably so, June’s storyline in this new season centers around her (often violent) expressions of her pent-up hatred towards those who have hurt her.
But June’s goals have clouded any aspect of the once caring, family-motivated woman of her distant past. It is quite ironic that June fought so hard to reunite with her family, only to endanger them with reckless violence.
It is apparent that rescuing her daughter Hannah from the grasp of Gilead is June’s main motivation and priority. But the reckless decisions she’s made throughout the season challenges this notion. It leaves the viewer frustrated at her recurring impulsivity.
Riveting conflicts between enemies have occurred this season, and seem to be building up to a jarring climax. However, these valiant acts of vengeance always end up fizzling out or getting left to the wayside.
Not only is this frustrating to observe on the screen, but it also makes the plot line seem like a “passing the power torch” game between characters with no impactful outcomes.
The finale, to air next week, presents the opportunity for loose ends to be tied up and final face-offs to be made. With the sixth season already announced, and a potential spinoff in the works, it looks like this will not be the end for June, no matter how retired — or boring — her character now is.